Even though Alexander Hamilton was not from the United States originally, and he never achieved anything huge back home, American History would not be the same without him. Hamilton was a man of great power and his overall significance in american history is profound. He was a founding father, a member of congress, and the first secretary of the treasury of the United States under President Washington.
These achievements would lead him to aid in founding the U.S. Mint, which was the first national bank. He participated as an author of The Federalist Papers in the constitution, which is still commonly used today for interpretation of the constitution. Back then, those articles convinced people to support the constitution. There are many instances that, without his clout, there would have been very little change in the world. He knew how to influence people and showcase his points with an appealing technique. Not only that but the story of his own journey from poverty to abundant fortune and success.
Alexander Hamilton is not only with us on our $10 bills, he paved the way for American life. Even today we still feel the aftershock of his impact. His main goal was a strong central government & basically dictatorial presidencies. He used his power and knowledge to encompass political, financial, and legal systems to create the American we know today.
According to the City Journal, Hamilton is The Modern America’s Founding Father. He would solve problems of economic policy and would hammer down a stable economic policy for centuries through his status of Secretary of the Treasury. He cleared a lot of debt in America which was accrued by the war. Without this the economy would have remained tattered. A lot of his decisions ripple through our current government’s choices and the way they enforce things is heavily affected by the constitution, which was Hamilton’s main project. He created an impression on our government that, as long as we still abide by the constitution, will affect our laws and living system.
He led the Federalists against Jefferson which sparked the birth of the need for efficiency in everyday tasks and industrialism, nowadays consumerism is all about efficiency. In today’s society, we revolve around efficiency. We are on a constant wheel of consumerism; always searching for the most efficient product to make the task at hand the least bit of effort for us. He promoted a strong future through industries and knew that relying on this advancement would catch on, His emphasis on manufacturing, infrastructure and finance helped foster independence from Britain not only in a political sense, but also in an economic sense.
Scholars also see Hamilton’s influence in today’s economy. He’s the one who first gave the government a role in the American economy, creating things like a national debt and a national bank ” things that are admittedly controversial but are undoubtedly ingrained in today’s financial system (Pumphrey). As a result of this, America now has the largest economy in the world. He essentially created stocks by allowing people to invest in the newly proposed government. Nowadays, people invest in things all the time, both new ideas and big company stock shares. People will devote time and effort to causes they believe should be popularized. By allowing people to do this, Hamilton gained peoples trust in both himself and his projected government.
He produced such strong ideas of racial equality that it took America a bit of time to put his theories into practice. He took on a strong lead in the anti-slavery movement. For he was one of the only founding fathers who was an immigrant. He came from an island in the West Indies which was plagued by a immense amount of slaves who suffered in silence every day. He was familiar with a life of being shamed because of his unmarried parents. He was determined to not enforce that life onto somebody else.
Who knows where we would be today if Alexander Hamilton had not proposed his revolutionary ideas of eliminating racism and prejudice. Of course, things are not perfect in today’s society, but it was his main goal to abolish slavery and deplete racism as much as possible. Because of his family’s status in the society of his home in the West Indies he was able to associate himself with the despised state of the slaves. He brought these ideas into America and popularized them. Hamilton’s most notable activity regarding his views on slavery was his role in the foundation of the Society for the Promotion of the Manumission of Slaves in New York (Ball). He had been well aware of the suffering of slaves, having lived so closely with them. He put all his might and willpower into getting the slaves to freedom. And that is exactly what he did. Who knows how long slavery would have remained, of course there is still racism today but the actual practice of slavery is entirely outdated and it’s thanks to Hamilton and his persistency in the revolution which freed some slaves.
However, Hamilton has not had an entirely positive impact on America and who we are today. While he was against slavery and racism, he helped propose the Alien and Sedition Acts. He passed these acts behind then president John Adams back, who did not have a chance to review them. These acts aimed to exhaust immigrants rights. This is confusing because he himself was an immigrant. These acts would make it harder for immigrants to get citizenship.These acts also allowed the president to deport and detain enemies. The president at the time never took advantage of this dominance but look where they have gotten us today. The nation split, arguing over human rights. Some want to keep America free of immigrants even though the earliest colonizers were immigrants.
While others think that this is simply human rights and we should not force anyone to live in poverty or danger. The nation is divided over issues that aroused over 200 years ago. The acts became laws even though they directly contradicted the first amendment. This cast a dark cloud over the nation that has yet to clear. Alexander Hamilton while admiring the nation and making the constitution his baby has the premonition of a poisoned chalice.
It seems to be a common theme that he knows how to get into the minds of Americans and make them feel protected if they follow his lead. The people have strong faith in his decisions, he comes off as a hard working and dedicated man. Based off the choices he has made and the things he has gone so far to support, people see his devotion. In their eyes, he always seems to be spewing something brilliant. From the moment he came to the Colonies, he has had power and knowledge. Today, we see the impacts of what his work had accomplished. It may not all be positive, not everyone may agree, and it may spark some protesting but he did impact the world we have today. His efforts have shaped the way we live and how we function in society. He may have not been completely successful but he touched on many things in his lifetime.
Alexander Hamilton’S Strongest Tool
Alexander Hamilton, a man who came from poverty and fought to stand for the better of the nation will always be remembered as one of the greatest founding fathers of America through his determination and allowing his voice to be heard. Hamilton was gifted with great potential, an ambitious spirit and a sponsored bright future ahead of him. Throughout his life, he learned strengths of his character, leadership skills and learned from costly mistakes; he attracted allies, the Federalist party and made enemies like Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson.
Although Hamilton was a very successful and famous politician, his reputation would suffer but he still stood by his powerful, relentless words which continued to benefit the directed change of the country.
Alexander Hamilton’s strongest tool of communication were his words and writings; he is known as one of the most energetic public speakers of the 1800’s. His speeches were long and comprehensive and as a lawyer stood strong to present his argument throughout a case; many describe Hamilton with his writing as obsessive. Most words contributed to his political writings such as The Federalist and the Camillus letters equaling to 70,000 words in length. Hamilton was not afraid to speak his mind even when his words got him in trouble by critics. His eloquent words helped him expand the writings of George Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796.
The purpose of many of Hamilton’s writings and speeches was to persuade; his passion was evident in words he spoke and wrote. One contribution to his use of words was his childhood collection of books he read that were his mother’s only possession he would achieve from her auctioned estate. Hamilton’s words were indispensable for Washington’s announcements and were part of the reason he was chosen for his staff. Hamilton’s achievements also were influenced by his dialect such as the United States Constitution; out of the 38 other men, he wrote the strongest case for the document in The Federalist.
His words were so persuasive that readers would begin believing that Hamilton’s ideas and opinions were their own. Words especially came useful to Hamilton when defending his reputation through the Reynolds Pamphlet based of the Reynolds affair. During this time of his life, Hamilton was blamed that he wrote the letters from the Reynolds himself as an attempt to cover his guilt.
Through wit and impressive argument, Hamilton was able to defend himself from accusations and prove his innocence. To Hamilton, the length of his work did not matter because none of his words were wasted; what mattered was the argument and proven opinions he sets in front of his audience. He believed people were just as analytical in thought as he was. One downfall of Hamilton’s outpour of words was the lack of appreciation his work received from audiences. Hamilton would live in his own world of intellect wondering why his words sometimes would not register with people the way he had intended. A key part of Hamilton’s writings was inspiration which is a rarity when used sincerely. Unlike many, Hamilton was not one to keep his mouth shut and would risk his social reputation for the words that would helped shape the nation’s future in ways never thought possible.
Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755, on Nevis, an island in the West Indies. Before he was born, his father, James Hamilton abandoned his mother, Rachael Faucett Lavien. Soon after, she opened a general store, where Alexander worked as a young boy. He eventually became a clerk for Beekman and Cruger, a merchant firm. (Leffler).
Before the Constitution was written, Hamilton was an active member as a proponent for the freedom of the country. He dropped out of King’s College in New York City due to the American Revolution when he joined the military in 1775. He rose to the rank of captain, and served alongside George Washington. However, due to a dispute, he left Washington, however, he was given command of a light infantry battalion. The force left to confront Cornwallis, until his final loss at Yorktown, when Hamilton resigned. (Leffler).
Hamilton began his life as a statesman when he was elected as a delegate to Congress by the New York Assembly. His career was short lived, as he attempted to work with the Preliminary Treaty of Peace with Britain. However, one of his most significant contributions as a delegate, was one that would result in a movement that would change the country to form the United States: a call to correct the Articles of Confederation. This led to the Annapolis Convention – a large scale failure with only twelve delegates from five states. Due to the inability for such a small group to do anything, Hamilton proposed a convention in Philadelphia – one that initially was made to edit the Articles of Confederation – but led to the creation of the Constitution. Hamilton was a key figure in generating the movement and support that created the footings of the country, as a Founding Father of the country. This resulted in the short term effect of the Constitutional Convention. (Leffler).
Hamilton made significant contributions to support the Constitution’s ratification in his state of New York. One of greatest ones was the collection of essays named The Federalist, written by himself, James Madison, and John Jay in support of the Constitution, and to convince the people to ratify it; to either adopt “the new Constitution, or a dismemberment of the Union” (Kaminski et al 2009, 13:3494-97). This helped many people side with the Federalist cause, however the Anti-Federalists still won the New York election. But, with the newfound agreement to review the Constitution by clause, the ratification by Massachusetts and Virginia, and Hamilton’s compelling arguments, New York passed the Constitution. (Leffler). The fact that Hamilton led the way in garnering NY’s support, proves himself as a Founding Father – securing one of the key votes necessary for the formation of the United States under the law we still follow to this day.
Hamilton resumed his role as a statesman, furthering his role as a Founding Father during Washington’s presidency, when he became the first Secretary of the Treasury in 1789. In this position, Hamilton greatly impacted the formation of the country in its original stages; his ideas were based around a strong, central government to unite all of the states, detailed through three reports for economic policy. In general, he focused on business, industry, and trade: making them governmentally associated with the belief that ordinary people could not do this for themselves. The major opposition to this idea was by Jefferson, with, in a sectional and class struggle, believed that small farmers were the basis of democracy as opposed to democratic principles. (“The George Washington Administrations”).
Hamilton’s contributions as Secretary were detailed through seven major plans: 3 dealing with debt and the other 4 with money management.
To begin, in terms of debt, Hamilton dealt with foreign debts, domestic debts, and state debts. On the foreign level, roughly $11.6 million were owed to various European countries from the Revolutionary War. Hamilton contributed the plan of paying interest via taxes and borrow capital to repay the loans’ principles. In terms of domestic debt, Hamilton had to deal with the $42.4 million from the Continental Congress and Confederation government borrowing money from state governments and individuals. He had a two part plan: 1) trade notes and bonds with various interest rates and time durations (a confused mess) for federal bonds with a fixed interest rate for the long-term and 2) making the federal government involved in domestic debts on the fiscal platform based on public securities – all at face value. Although many opposed his plan due to inflation and high debt, Hamilton’s convincing argument, trustworthiness, and the fact that many congressmen owned that debt, agreed with him. Finally, in terms of state debt, a total of $25 million, Hamilton was abl
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Leffler, Richard. “Hamilton, Alexander.” American Governance, edited by
Stephen Schechter, et al., vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, 2016, pp. 6-12. Student Resources In Context, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3629100318/SUIC?u=pisc23865&sid=SUIC&xid=dd752b43. Accessed 26 Dec. 2018.
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Reshaping Historical Narrative in ‘Hamilton’
Hamilton has proven to be a pivotal element in the American historical narrative. Both the musical’s content and artistic license speaks to the power of collective memory and our perceptions of the past. The alterations to historical narrative made in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway Musical Hamilton bridges the era of the American Revolution to current issues in American society.
Hamilton attempts to interweave the narrative of underrepresented individuals with that of America’s Founding Fathers. Historians grapple to determine the best perspective from which to present history. Should future generations be presented with stories of the trailblazing leaders who produced significant change, or should attention be focused on the common people? Should we focus on those who perhaps did not have a voice or were not recognized in the ‘official history’? Miranda’s creative choices are met with both critical acclaim for their boldness and backlash because of the historical inaccuracies rendered by artistic license in response to such questions. He utilizes a highly diverse cast to illustrate Hamilton’s story. In an interview, Miranda states “Our cast looks like America looks now, and that’s certainly intentional . . . It’s a way of pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door.” His adaptation of history invites every American, regardless of race, to see himself or herself reflected in the story of the Founding Fathers.
While Miranda’s artistic choices have led to more conversation — both around current day issues and American history — some historians have expressed opposition. Joanne Freeman, professor of history at Yale University, commented on the historical inaccuracies in the musical: “Aside from the condensation of time, certain dates are changed to allow the music to flow more easily; well-known characters such as Burr, Jefferson, and Madison take on the actions of less important characters of history; and Adams decision to fire Hamilton from Treasury Secretary was simply invented.” Additionally, she criticized the musical for depicting Hamilton in a linear, simplistic manner stating, “the real Hamilton was a mass of contradictions: an immigrant who sometimes distrusted immigrants . . . a man who distrusted the rumblings of the masses yet preached his politics to them more frequently and passionately than many of his more democracy friendly-fellows.” Historian Shane White criticized Miranda for “infus[ing] new life into an older view of American history [rather than] attempting to get away from the Great Men Story [by including] ordinary people, African-Americans, Native Americans and women [into a] historical narrative in which Hamilton has a cameo rather than a leading role.” While chastised by some for its inaccuracies, it is the existence of these inaccuracies, and the widespread debate about them that makes Hamilton a powerful work of art that has helped to focus attention and center conversation on race relations in America. By inserting both the values and challenges present in the 21st century into his musical, Miranda illustrates how historical narrative is shaped by the values of the generation responsible for passing the knowledge forward.
In addition to the musical’s creative choices, the content of the story outlines the underlying theme that historical narrative is fluid. Although the story focuses on telling Hamilton’s story, it is clear that many of the characters are intimately aware of how historical narrative is manipulated. In History Has Its Eyes On You (Song 19, Act I), Washington confides in Hamilton about the time he led his men into a massacre. He is aware that as a Revolutionary hero and first President of the United States his actions will be scrutinized and studied for centuries to come, and he knows his failures are not exempt from this process. Washington warns Hamilton that “You have no control: who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” This line is not only repeated in later songs but echoes the internal struggles many of the characters bear. After Hamilton’s political opponents learn of his affair, he is confronted by the shame Washington had prophesied.
Morally trapped between political blackmail and a deplorable truth, Hamilton attempts to control the narrative by writing about the scandal himself. Despite the fact that his honesty does not do much to comfort his wife, it pushes Eliza to consider her own narrative. How must a wife in this circumstance react? With vengeance or support? Eliza ultimately decides to “erase [herself] from the narrative. Let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted when [Hamilton] broke her heart.” However, after Hamilton’s death, she chooses to preserve his letters and allow his genius to be discovered for future tellings. She concludes in Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story (Song 23, Act II) to “stop wasting time on tears . . . and put [herself] back in the narrative.” Eliza goes on to “interview every soldier who fought by [Hamilton’s] side” and “make sense of [Hamilton’s] thousands of pages of writings” taking on the persona of a historian herself. In many ways, Eliza’s character acts as the original lense through which Hamilton’s story is told. It also speaks to the fact that Eliza, who as a woman in the 18th century without much external power, uses her own voice to influence the narrative of future generations. Regardless of who tells the story, history is in the hands of everyone, including those who may not have the strongest voice.
Miranda has succeeded in layering the theme of historical narrative into the character conflicts within the musical. At the same time, he created a production controversial enough to garner a significant change in the present-day narrative of the founding of America. Aside from giving minority voices an opportunity to speak both on the stage and in the media, he reminds us through both the portrayal of the characters’ concern for how their story will be told and through our reaction to his unexpected portrayals, that historical narrative is controlled by the individual presenting the story.
Women’s roles in “Hamilton”
Throughout the play, Hamilton, women hold a very strong role in the musical. The most powerful roles from the women in Hamilton are played by the Schuyler sisters who are introduced in Act I of the play during the song, “The Schuyler Sisters.” During this song, Alexander Hamilton meets the sisters; Angelica, Elizabeth, and Peggy. Angelica is the oldest sister who when first see Hamilton falls in love with him but knows she will be forced to marry someone rich. Next, is Elizabeth, she is introduced to Hamilton during a ball where the song “Helpless” is then sung by Eliza and Hamilton. Then, in the second act during the song, “Say No To This,” a new woman is introduced into the play. Maria Reynolds who has been mistreated by her husband and is encouraged to have an affair with Hamilton. These songs represent the role of the women in Hamilton and have strong refrains, motifs, and rhythm.
First, in “The Schuyler Sisters,” when Burr is introducing the Schuyler sisters there is a specific meter that goes along with the words he is saying. For example, at the opening of the song, there is an intense bass sound, which happens at the beginning of every line Burr says except for the beginning of the third line. Instead of the bass sound is at the start of the line it’s at the end of the line after Burr says, “The man is loaded”. This change of meter is to signify and intensify that line to make it known the Schuyler sister’s family has money. Next, after being introduced to Angelica one of her main lines in “The Schuyler sisters” helps define her role as an intelligent free-thinking woman of the new world. “You want a revolution? I want a revelation. So listen to my declaration. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m going to compel him to put women in the sequel.” This is a very strong and powerful message that Angelica was speaking to Burr to prove to him women are not going to stand to be pushed around by men any longer. The rhythm of the song is also a very fast pace which shows the intensity and power the women’s roles will play.
Next, in the song, “Helpless” Eliza and Hamilton get formally introduced by Angelica and eventually get married. The feelings and emotions of This song is very opposite than the previous song Eliza was in, “The Skylar Sisters”. In that song, the girls are represented as powerful and in charge, whereas in this song, Eliza has been taken over by Hamilton and is “helpless”. Listeners can hear the influence Hamilton has on Eliza, since in the first song she sang with much power, whereas in this song she is singing much softer along with the rhythm of the song. The refrain in this song includes the repeating line by Eliza “I do” since these are the beginning lyrics it’s already foreshadowed the marriage of Elizabeth and Hamilton which happens at the end of the song.
Lastly, another woman is introduced into the play in the second act, Maria Reynolds. Maria Reynolds came into Hamilton’s life saying her husband had abused her and abandoned her and she was lost on what to do. Hamilton had an affair with Maria for a month before Maria’s husband writes Hamilton a letter making him pay for Maria’s services or he’d tell Eliza about the affair. This is another example of how poorly women were treated at that time. Women were being abused and abounded just to have their husband come back into their lives to make a profit off them. In the song “Say No To This”, Maria refers to being “helpless” since her husband has abandoned her. This also can relate back to how Eliza felt “helpless” with Hamilton, however, Eliza is helplessly in love whereas Maria is just helpless from abonnement. Hamilton having an affair with Maria was one of the first known political scandals in America. “Over the course of that year, while the affair took place, James Reynolds was well aware of his wife’s unfaithfulness. He continually supported their relationship to regularly gain blackmail money from Hamilton” (Alexander Hamilton). James Reynolds was using Maria and Hamilton for profit.
In conclusion, in the musical production play, Hamilton the female characters play a large role in the plot. In the song “The Schuyler Sisters” Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy all showed what it meant to be empowered women of the new world with their lyrics. Next, the romance of Eliza and Alexander Hamilton happens during “Helpless” this shows how other people can influence one’s feelings. Finally, in the song “Say No To This” Maria Reynolds is introduced into an affair with Hamilton. Maria represents the bad things, like abuse and neglect, that very often did happen to women during that time period.